Conference Abstracts

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Workplace and workforce issues in adopting a tobacco-free care environment

McDonald, T. A., 2009

ICN Quadrennial Congress, Durban, South Africa


Background: A large private aged care home was planning to introduce a non-smoking ban for staff, residents and visitors. It was presumed that staff attitudes towards workplace smoking policy and towards clients and other staff, indicate the extent to which non-smoking and smoking staff in long-term care would support workplace policy on tobacco smoking.

Objective: To investigate potential effects of organisational and regulatory policies on staff smokers and quitting, and also the effects on clients and visitors covered by workplace smoking bans.

Methods: A printed and online survey was conducted across a large, multi-centre long-term care organisation. The information was to form a basis for development of workplace policy on smoking which staff and management could endorse. Policy and regulatory information was reviewed in terms of the feasibility of workplace smoking policies; staff compliance issues; client and family issues with smoking policies in long-term care environments and formed part of the survey and report.

Results: The study identified possible consequences of (1) enforcing a policy of workplace bans, or (2) adopting a policy of restrictions combined with smoking in designated areas, or (3) accepting that the policy may not be needed where staff attitudes and self-regulatory behaviour in relation to tobacco smoking can sustain a healthy workplace. Particular issues associated with introducing smoke-free policies to long-term care environments include potential reduction in workforce availability; client issues related to tobacco withdrawal; and employer responsibility for occupational health and safety. The group of staff who smoked indicated positive support for the ban as it would help them to quit.

Conclusions: Organisational policy development and regulatory compliance management in long-term care environments should consider the consequences of management decisions of enforcing a non-smoking policy; adopting a partial policy with smoking in certain areas; or accepting that a non-smoking policy is not feasible to enforce in a long-term care work environment

CITATION McDonald T. (2009) Workplace and workforce issues in adopting a tobacco-free care environment. International Council of Nurses (ICN), 24th Quadrennial Congress, Durban South Africa. 27 June – 4 July.


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